tv The Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer CNN September 17, 2011 6:00pm-7:00pm EDT
these photos. she called the crash very scary. no information on injuries so far. we'll bring you the details just as soon as we get them here on krn. thank you so much for watching us. i'm don lemon. i'll be back here an hour from now. in the meantime, ""the situation room" with wolf blitzer" begins right now. >> many republicans are looking at the gop presidential candidates with a fresh eye after our historic cnn tea party debate. plus three. >> guus: three of the contenders talk about how their opponents did. stand by with my interviews. and why president obama should be worried about china's rise. the journalist and authored thomas friedman explains how the united states can maintain its role as the world's top economic superpower. we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room."
>> rick perry walked away from his second presidential debate feeling battered and bruised. this tea party face-off proved to be a tough test for the texas governor. the republican front-runner was on the receiving end of many contentious exchanges. take a listen to some of the most talked about moments when all eight republicans stood on the stage with me in tampa, florida, this week. governor perry, speaking of social security, you said in the past it's a ponzy scheme. an absolute failure. unconstitutional. but today you wrote an article in usa today saying it must be saved and reformed. very different tone. why? >> it's time for us to get back to the constitution. and a program that's been there 70 or 80 years, obviously we're not going to take that program away. but for people to stand up and
support what they did in the 0s or in the 2010s is not appropriate for america. >> the question is, do you still believe that social security should be ended as a federal program as you did six months ago when your book came out and return to the states or do you want a treat for them? >> i think we ought to have a conversation -- >> we're having that right now, governor. we're running for president. >> we'll finish this conversation. but the issue is, are there ways to move the states into social security? we did it in the state of texas in the 1980s. i think those types of thoughtful conversations with america rather than trying to scare seniors like you're doing and other people, it's time to have a legitimate conversation in this country about how to fix that program where it's not bankrupt and our children actually know that there's going to be a retirement program there for them. >> governor, the term ponzy scheme is what scares seniors, number one. and number two, suggesting that social security should no longer
be a federal program and return to the states is likewise frightening. there are a lot of the bright people who agree with you. and that's your view. i happen to have a different one. i think that social security is an essential program that we should change the way we're funding it. >> governor, you called it a criminal -- you said if people did it in the private sector, it would be called criminal. that's in your book. >> what i said was -- [ applause ] >> governor perry, you have to quote me correctly. you said it's criminal. i said congress taking money out of the social security trust fund is like criminal and it is, it's wrong. >> i don't think anything should be off the table except maybe the drama playing out on this floor today. i mean to hear these two go at it over here it is incredible. you have governor romney who called it a fraud in his book "no apology." i don't know if that was written by kurt cobain or not. and then you have governor perry who is calling this is a ponzy
scheme. all i know, wolf, is we're frightening the american people who just want solutions. and this party isn't going to win in 2012 unless we get our act together and fix the problem. we all know that we've gotten titlement problems. we have medicare. we've got social security. the fixes are there. i mean the ryon plan is there, for heaven sake. we have the answers. dwoent have leadership much that's the problem. >> i'm not particularly worried about governor perry and governor romney frightening the american people when president obama scares them every single day. >> governor romney, you know governor perry is governor of texas created more jobs in texas than any other state. >> terrific state. no question about that. some wonderful things that texas has going for them that the nation can learn from. zero income tax. that's a pretty good thing. right to work state. republican legislature. republican supreme court. by the way, a the love oil as well. >> does governor perry deserve any credit for all the jobs that were created in texas? >> oh, sure. >> go ahead and tell him how much credit he deserves. >> well, look --
>> i think governor perry would agree with me if you are dealt four ace that's doesn't make you necessarily a great poker player. and four aces -- and the four ace that's are terrific aces the nation should learn from are the ones i described, zero income tax, low regulation, right to work state, oil in the ground and republican legislature am those things are terrific. by the way, there has been great job growth in texas under ann richards, job growth was 2.5% a year. under george bush, 3% a year. under rick perry, 1% a year. those are all good numbers. those are all good numbers. but texas is a great state. and i'll tell you, if you think that the country is like texas going well, then somebody who's done that is just terrific. if you think the country needs a turn around, that's what i do. >> all right, governor perry. you were dealt four aces. >> well, i was going to say mit you were doing good until you got to talking poker. but the fact is the state of texas has led the nation.
while the colonel resident of the white house is overseeing the loss of 2.5 million jobs, texas has during my period as governor created over a million jobs. we did that during some pretty tough economic period. >> let me bring speaker gingrich into this conversation. jobs, jobs, jobs. all of us that covered you when you were speaker and worked together with president clinton at the time, you compromised. he compromised. you got things done. there was a budge surplus for as far as the high can see. if you were president, you would work with the democrats assuming they were the majority in the house or the senate? would you compromise with them on some of these gut issues? >> when i was a very young congressman, ronald reagan taught me a great lesson. if you have democrats in charge, go to the american people on principle and have the american people educate their congressmen. he used to say, i try to turn up the light for the people so they will turn up the heat on congress. when we passed welfare reform, half the people who -- half the
democrats voted yes because they couldn't go home having voted no. and on a principle basis, i'd be glad to work with democrats in any office. would i do it on principle, not on compromising principle. >> governor perry, as you well know, you signed an executive order requiring little girls 11 and 12-year-old girls to get a vaccine to deal with a sexually tra transmitted disease that could lead to cervical cancer. was that a mistake? >> it was, indeed. if i had to do it over again, i would have done it differently. i would have gone to the legislature, worked with them. but what was driving me was obviously making a difference about young people's lives. >> cervical cancer is a horrible way to die. and i happen to think that what we were trying to do was to clearly send a message that we're going to give moms and dads the opportunity to make that decision with parental opt out. >> do you have a problem with anything that governor perry
just said? you're a mom. >> i'm a mom. and i'm a mom of three children. and to have innocent little 12-year-old girls be forced to have a government injection through an executive order is just flat out wrong. that should never be done. that's a violation of a liberty interest. little girls who have a negative reaction to this potentially dangerous drug don't get a mulligan. they don't get a do over. the parents don't get a do over. that's why i fought so hard in washington, d.c., against president obama and obama care. i just wanted to add that we cannot forget that in the midst of this executive order there is a big drug company that made millions of dollars because of this mandate. we can't deny that. >> what you are suggesting? >> what i'm saying is that it's wrong for a drug company because the governor's former chief of staff is the chief lobbyist for
this drug company. the drug company gave thousands of dollars in political donation tosz the governor. and this is just flat out wrong. the question is, is it about life or was it about millions of dollars and potentially billions for a drug company? >> let the senator hold off for a second. you have to respond to that. >> yes, sir, the company was merck. and it was a $5,000 contribution that i had received from them. i raise about $30 million. if you're saying that i can be bought for $5,000, i'm offended. >> i'm offended for all the little girls and the parents that didn't have a choice. that's what i'm offended. >> i'm going to move on unless you want to say anything else. zbh look, i think we made decisions in texas. we put a $3 billion effort into find the cure for cancer. there are a lot of different cancers out there.
texas, i think, day in and day out is a place that protects life. i'm passed parental notification, pieces of legislation. i've been the most pro-life governor in the state of texas. and what we were all about was trying to save young people's lives in texas. >> then give parents the opt in -- teach them, let them opt in but do the no force them to have this vaccine. >> thank you, governor. before i goat michelle bachman -- you're a fashion ron paul. let me ask you this. a healthy 30-year-old young man has a good job, makes a good living. but decides, you know what? i'm not going to spend 200 or $300 a month for health insurance because i'm healthy. i don't need it. something terrible happens. all of a sudden, he needs it. who pays for that? >> in a society you accept
welfarism and socialism, he expects the government it take care of it. he should do whatever he wants to do and assume responsibility for himself. my advice to him is have a major medical policy. but not be forced -- >> he doesn't have it. and he needs -- he needs intensive care for six months. who pays? >> that's what freedom is all b taking your own risk. this whole idea that you have to prepare and take care of everybody -- congressman, are you saying that society should just let him die? >> no. i practice medicine before we had medicaid in the eerarly 196. i practiced at santa rosa hospital in san antonio. the churches took care of them. we never turned anybody away from the hospitals. and we have given up on this whole concept that we might take care of ourselves and assume responsibility for ourselves, our neighbors, our friends, our churches would do it. this whole idea -- that's the reason that the cost is so high. the cost is so high because we
dump it on the government. it becomes a bureaucracy. it becomes special interest. it coddles the drug companies. then on top of that, you have the inflation. the inflation devalues the dollar. we have lack of competition. there's no competition in medicine. everybody is protected by licensing. we should actually legalize alternative health care, allow people to practice what they want. >> did you sign legislation giving some illegal immigrants in texas the opportunity to have instate tuition at universities in texas. >> if you're working and pursuing a citizenship in the state of texas, you pay in state tuition. there and the bottom line is it doesn't make any difference what the sound of your last name is. that is the american way. no matter how you got into that state from the standpoint of your parents brought you there or what have you, and that's what we've done in the state of texas.
and i'm proud that we are having those individuals be contributing members of our society rather than tell on them you go and be on the government dough. >> you heard boos there. go ahead congressman bachmann. is that dream act that president obama wants as well? >> it's very similar. i think the american sway not to give taxpayers subsidized benefits to people who broken our laws or are here in the united states illegally. that is not the american way. because the immigration system in the united states worked very, very well up until the mid 1960s when liberal members of congress changed immigration laws. what works is to have people come into the united states with a little bit of money in their pocket legally with sponsors so that if anything happens to them, they don't fall back on the taxpayers to take care of them. and then they also have to agree to learn to speak the english language, learn american history
and our constitution. that's the american way. >> all right. a little flavor of what went on during that lengthy debate in tampa. we're going to go dig deeper though now with some of the candidates straight ahead. i'll go one-on-one with mitt romney, newt gingrich and john huntszman, all three of them joining us right here in "the situation room". ♪ what are you looking at? don't look up there. why are you looking up? ♪ get outta the car. get outta the car. ♪ are you ok? the... get in the car. get in the car! [ male announcer ] the epa estimated 42 mpg highway chevy cruze eco. for wherever life takes you.
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mitt romneya harsh critic of the obama administration. i talked about that and much more with former massachusetts governor mitt romney. the front-runner rick perry, at least according to a lot of the polls, he just spoke to our sister publication "time" magazine. he made this statement. i'm going to play it for you and then we'll discuss. listen to rick perry. >> i still believe they are socialists. there are policies prove that almost daily. i mean when all the answers emanate from washington, d.c., one size fits all, whether it's education policy or whether it's
health care policy, that is, on its face, socialism. >> talking about the obama administration's policies. do you agree with him? >> well, you know, words have a lot of unintended meanings and calling people socialists probably goes beyond the fact that it is true that president obama's team and the president himself seem to believe that government has a better approach to our economy than does the private sector. and i disagree with that approach. i believe that we have to have a government that is a partner that, is encouraging the private sector, encouraging freedom, encouraging free people. what they've done instead is add regulation, add taxation, add burdens to the free enterprise system which does tend to make us more european. and europe isn't working in europe. so, you know, i don't use the word socialist or i haven't so far.
it's not working. >> you remember that exchange i had at the debate with ron paul. i asked him about that hypothetical call 30-year-old that has a good job, healthy, makes a good living but decides he doesn't want to buy health insurance. he wants to do something else with that money. but he gets into some sort of accident and needs life support for six months. costs hundreds of thousands of dollars. what do you do with -- who pays for that kind of care? you heard the exchange i had with ron paul. what do you say? as you know, what i say is states have a responsibility for caring for their own poor. this should not be a federal responsibility. and there are two-ways that states traditionally have done. that one is give up free care at the hospitals. and that gets paid for either by other insured individuals or by taxpayers. in my state, it was paid for by taxpayers. or, you can have inferior care given to people who in which kaz their lives are in jeopardy. we're going to insist on people
taking personal responsibility. we're not going to have people dying or have their health care in jejeopardy. if they can afford their own care, we're going to insist they pay for it as opposed to looking for government. the people that come up with other ideas, i want to seat ideas in different states. you know in, massachusetts now about 98% of our people have insurance. and i'm proud of the fact that we're seeing better health outcomes as a result. >> were you taken aback by when the audience tea party supporters said you would let that young man die and some of them screamed out, yes! were you taken aback by that response from some in the audience? >> i sure was. i was very disappointed by that response. look, we're a people that care very deeply for one another. we respect the sanctity of human life, whether unborn life, middle of their life or end of their life. i tried very hard as governor of my state to come up with a plan that would care for people in our state in a thoughtful and compassionate way.
less than 1% of our children don't have health insurance. over 99% of our kids have health insurance. there are other states where the uninsured kids are as high as 20%. you know, i hope to find a solution to problems and to try and help our people. i think that's the role of those that have responsibility. and incidentally, there may be better ways to do it that i came up with. and as ross perot used to say, i'm all ears. i'm happy to see what other people come up with. if they come up with something better than i did, i'm happy to have states be able to adopt. that but a federal takeover with a federal government telling states how to do it, that is one mistake and that's one reason i repeal obama care. >> how far would you go to stop iran from building a nuclear bomb? >> iran has to be convinced we'll go all the way. that we'll take military action. that military action is on the table. i think our president communicated in various subtle ways that there is not a military option that, we would consider. i think that's a mistake. i think you have to have crippling sanctions against iran. i think you have to have covert
action in iran to convince the people there of the becoming a nuclear nation. i think they have to believe that america would consider taking military action. that has to be on the table and plans have to be in place. and that's something which clearly you have to consider. we cannot endure a world where iran has a bomb. then, of course, the saudis will and turkey will and you go aren't world. syrians will. you'll have all sorts of people with nuclear weapons. ultimately, the material will find its way in the hands of terrorists and the consequence for the world and for the america is unthinkable. >> if you were president and you had to deal with the united nations general assembly vote in the coming days that would call for the creation of a palestinian state, what would you do about it? >> you start a long time ago.
this would have been avoided or. >> kevin: been avoided in my view had the president made it clear from the very outset that we stand by israel. that we lock arm and arm. instead, the president tried to communicate to the palestinians and others that support their effort that, well, there may be some distance between us and israel. look, you stand by your allies. you show that you're united. that's the best way to keep people from taking adventurous activity. >> good luck, governor. we'll stay in close touch. >> thanks, wolf. good to be with you. >> why is newt gingrich comparing himself to bill clinton, jimmy carter and george mcgovern? you're going to find out next. # are you curious about new ideas?
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newt gingrich got good reviews for his debate performance. he often tried to teach his rivals a thing or two. i asked him about the key moments of the debate including rick perry's stand on the drawdown of u.s. troops in afghanistan. >> it's time to bring our young men and women home as soon and obviously safely as we can. but it's also really important for us to continue to have a presence there. and i think the entire conversation about how do we deliver our aid to those countries and is it best spent with 100,000 military who have a target on their back in afghanistan, i don't think so at this particular point in time. >> it sounds like, correct me if i'm wrong, mr. speaker, he wants to get out of afghanistan a lot
more quickly than you would recommend. >> well, think we have to ask the military what is the most rapid rate at which we could withdraw from afghanistan safely. i think we're drifting towards the most dangerous period in the middle east since the yom kippur war in 1973. the turkish israeli confrontation could become extraordinarily dangerous. the developments in egypt have been very, very dangerous. iranians i think yesterday announced that their first nuclear reactor had gone online. i think people underestimate how many different problems they're building very rapidly. frankly, i think that the administration's decision to keep 3,000 troops in iraq is extraordinarily dangerous. so i think there are a lot of things going on simultaneously across the region. and we need to review all of our posture in the region, not just afghanistan or iraq. i think this is going to become a very serious and very
dangerous region. >> i had this exchange with ron paul the congressman from texas. a sensitive subject. let me play the clip and then we'll discuss. he doesn't have it. he needs -- he needs intensive care for six months. who pays? >> that's what freedom is all about. taking your own risk. this whole idea that you have to prepare and take care of everybody -- >> congressman, you are saying this society should just let him die? >> yes! >> no. >> yes! >> i practiced medicine before we had medicaid in the early 1906's when i got out of medical schooled. i practiced at santa rosa hospital in san antonio. and the churches took care of them. >> what went through your mind when you heard that exchange? >> this idea, you know, what's happened is modern liberalism said if you don't have insurance you can't be covered. that's not true. we could provide health care for the person for much less money than we can provide free health insurance. and i think there are times when
you ought to look at whether or not free clinics are less expensive than a universal insurance program, whether or not having a charitable program and charitable hospitals is less expensive. and delivers first-rate care. none of the doctors who work in free clinics are bad doctors. none of the doctors that historically are charitable hospitals are bad hospitals, but it's a recognition that if you refuse to be responsible, you refuse to take care of yourself. 30-year-old has a job, perfectly healthy, refuses to be an adult, refuses to be a good citizen. i'm not sure we owe them 100% of what we owe somebody who's done everything right and worked hard and paid their taxes and bought their insurance. >> what about his decision to allow instate tuition for children of illegal immigrants in texas? that wasn't popular in the audience there. the tea part supporters. what do you think? does he have a point there? >> first of all, the idea that you have to have instate tuition
or can't get i heducated is nonsense. there are phoenix university there are dozens of ways to solve. this. >> kevin: said well, you pay out of state tuition. there are a variety of things you could do. so it's not an either/or situation. >> one final political question before i let you go, mr. speaker. our latest cnn poll had perry at 30%, romney, 18%. palin is not even in, 8% to 15%. ron paul, 12%. you and herm an cane are at 5%. what is your campaign stand right now? where do you assess your position in this race for the white house? >> well right now we're exactly where george mcgovern was at this stage before he got the nomination, where jimmy carter was at this stage before he became president. it's where bill clinton was and by the way at this stage in 2007, john mccain wasn't in the top two either. so i'm pretty comfortable. we're talking about substance. we're talking about things that
matter to the american people starting with job creation. every week that goes by, i think we gain strength in every beeb we've been in. we have a lot more folks showing up at newt.org. i feel pretty good about where we are and how it's developing. >> i never thought i'd hear newt gingrich making xpar sons to himself between jimmy carter and mcgovern. it's not every day you hear that. >> they got the nomination as did bill clinton and john mccain. >> mr. speaker, good to have you back in "the situation room." >> much more ahead on the republican battle for the white house. up next, my interview with the presidential candidates and former utah governor john huntsman. i'll ask him about the growing controversy over the future of social security here in the united states and what he plans to do about it. ♪ okay, so who ordered the cereal that can help lower cholesterol and who ordered the yummy cereal? yummy. that's yours. lower cholesterol. lower cholesterol. i'm yummy. lower cholesterol.
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he is trying to make end roads before the first presidential contest five months from now. i spoke with the former u.s. ambassador to china and followed up on many of the heated topics we addressed during the debate. let's talk about social security first. if you were president, how you would make sure that our children and grandchildren would continue to get social security? >> well, i'd begin with a conversation like i had with large group of seniors today and that is not to scare them with language that tends to turn off voters but rather put forward ideas like the idea that we can look at the underlying assumptions for inflation and peg it more to the consumer price index, like the idea question take social security now that we're living three decades longer than somebody born in 1900. and maybe take it out to the 85th percentile of the average age of life. and if i have to tell you, there are a lot of people in this country beyond a certain income category who probably don't need social security.
they are the first ones to stand up and probably applaud if a politician was courageous enough to say let's get the numbers right. let's maybe draw a line in the sand where people really don't need it. they can afford to do otherwise. and let's begin fixing the numbers to secure it for future generations. the fixes are there. we just don't have the political leadership to move us forward. >> those are courageous positions you're taking. on the cost of living, for example, in effect that means less money for retirees, right? >> that's correct. >> and on the issue of means testing, people pay into social security all their lives. if you earn a certain income, you wouldn't necessarily get social security. where would that cutoff point be? >> well, we would have to work out those details. let me just say, i would be willing to have that conversation with the american people. you can find the cutoff and it would be in the spirit, wolf, of shared sacrifice. everyone has to recognize that given entitlements where they are today, given the fact that this economy is sucking wind and we've hit the wall, we have no choice. people have to stand up and they
have to hear the president say that it's going to require a little bit of shared sacrifice. we haven't started that conversation. but i believe part of it will be exactly what i've outlined in broad strokes here. >> so from 65 to 67. what age is a good age not necessarily for the current retirees but for ten years down the road, 70? is that what you want to raise the age to? >> we're living longer with each passing year and the benefits of health and science is good thing. let's face it to the 85% of the average length of life. and use that as kind of a moving scale. i think that is a good place to start this conversation. during the debate we had monday night in tampa. the hpv vaccine that in texas the governor by executive order rick perry mandated that 11 and 12-year-old girls get this vaccine. it's a sexually tra lly transmi
disease that can lead to cervical cancer. michelle bachmann was very critical. who is right? >> let me just say whoever comes down against mandates, i think is on the side of where the american public are. parents and guardians can make choices. mandates do not have a role predominantly. or whether it's what we're discussing here. i think american people, the american people are very skeptical of mandates in society. and they want freedom. they want the freedom. they want the freedom to choose these things. and i think rick came out and said that he had erred and basically took back that earlier decision he made. >> one final question on this. michelle bachmann, she says she spoke to a woman who told her that her daughter became mentally retarded after getting that hpv vaccine. a lot of scientists saying that was totally irresponsible. no evidence for that. what do you make of that?
>> well, if you're going to say something, just check your sources. get your information right. if you're going to run for president of the united states, people are pretty much going to want to rely on your facts. they're going to want to rely it is on what you're presenting. >> she qualified to be president of the united states? >> well i think she meets the constitutional requirements, of course. >> the constitution is one thing. but in terms of her experience, her expertise,er in knowled erhs she ready to become commander in chief? >> i would never go beyond what the constitution requires. leave that up to the people to decide. they usually make the best choices. >> governor huntsman, good luck. >> thank you, wolf. i prappreciate it. here's a question sshgts united states losing its status as the world's leading superpower? i'll talk about that and much more with tom friedman of "the new york times". [ male announcer ] you never know when a moment might turn into something more. and when it does men with erectile dysfunction
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as president obama struggles to jump-start the ailing u.s. economy, a mounting debt crisis and newly downgraded credit rating, there is deep kuconcern about the standing of the united states as a global superpower. joining us now, "the new york times" columnist thomas friedman. he has a brand new book out that he co-authored. the book is entitled, "that used to be us: how america fell behind in the world and how invented and how we can come back." congratulations on the new book. i'll start off with a clip. it will be obvious why i'm playing this clip. listen to this.
>> it makes no sense for china to have better rail systems than us and singapore having better airports than us and we just learned that china now has the fastest super computer on earth. that used to be us. >> now we know how you got the title. is that plagiarism a little bit? >> no, we quoted it. >> you obviously are giving him full credit. that used to be us but it's not us anymore. what happened? >> well, you know, wolf, this is a forward looking book with a backward looking title much the reason is that we argue we had a formula for success in this country. ut was built on five basic principles, educate our people up to and beyond what the technology is so he had can master it, have the world's best infrastructure and immigration policies to attract the energetic and talented immigrants. have the bev rules for investing. and fifth, government funded research. that used to be us. that's how we got here. that public-private partnership is how we became a rich country.
what is the book is about is basically how we lost all five. we're there pointing down at all five and we're way back. we have to turn the arrows up again. good how much responsibility do you think president obama has? he's been president now for approaching three years for getting the u.s. or preventing the u.s. from getting out of what you clearly describe as a rut. >> our argument is that the hole that we're in is not from 2008. it really 20 years. it dates back to the end of the cold war which we dealt with as a victory. it was a great victory. it also unleashed two billion people just like us who want to compete us with and collaborate with us. it was a moment when we really needed to be tying up our shoes to run the race. and we kind of put our feet up. unfortunately, compounded by the last decade where we tragically found ourselves having to chase the losers from globalization, al qaeda and taliban, rather than the winners. >> what is the single most important thing the president can do, given the fact there is a divided contract legislatively not going to be able to achieve
much. what can he do as president unilaterally through executive orders or whatever to help get the u.s. out of this hole? >> unfortunately, wolf, the hole we're in requires collective action. it's too deep. it's collective action, the kind that won the cold war in world war ii. i think the most important thing the president can do is basically lay out his side of a grand bargain. he can't strike that bargain alean. he needs the republican partner. but his side has to include a plan for cutting spending. we made promises we cannot keep to future generations, for raising revenue. we don't have enough revenue. >> which means tax increases. >> we cannot just shred our safety net. lastly, for investing in these five pillars of our national greatness. we have to do all three at the same time. >> as far as raising taxes, republicans are not going to go along with raising taxes. >> republicans will tell you that's off the table. to which i will tell you then our future is off the table. we can't do this without doing all three. we have to cut spending. we have to raise taxes. i hope we can do it through tax reform. there seems to be some impetus
for that in the republican party. and we have to invest in the sources of our strength. >> let's talk about this potential republican crop of candidates out there. i did an interview this week with the eight republican candidates. you see any of them have the vision that you and michael would like to see, to help the united states move on to this next level? >> you know, i think governor romney probably comes close to it although you never quite know. he has to spend so much time pandering to the republican base right now to win the primary. whether they can win the primary and deliver the agenda is a different question. >> what about rick perry? >> he doesn't feel like someone who really has this sense of -- how we got here in full. you know, this sense that we got to cut spending and raise
revenue and invest in the source of our greatness. >> in texas he helped create a lot of jobs in texas. >> there are situations in texas that are peculiar. perry is early in the race. one of the points we really make in this book is we don't have a candidate. we have an agenda. and if rick perry signs on to this agenda or president obama or john huntsman, god bless them. we're with them. the country needs the agenda. and so i'm not really here to pick candidates. >> i heard some of the other interviews. you've suggested maybe the country needs a third party, some sort of nondemocrat, nonrepublican, somebody else who's going to come in and pick up some of these ideas. >> well, our point is because we have an agenda and not a candidate. if no candidate actually per sues that agenda, we think -- it doesn't matter what we want. the country needs that kind of shock. we think someone will step into that void, wolf. where we are right now, i think our choices are very simple. we're either going to have a hard decade or a bad century.
that is either we're going to realize this hole is not a couple years old. it doesn't take a tax cut here and cut of spending. there we have been on a 20-year mardi gras, okay? we made up for a lot of hard by injecting with credit steroids. it's probably going to take a decade to get out of this hole. it will get quicker and quicker. if we don't assume a hard decade, we'll have a bad century. we're going to look like a big japan, i fear. more of my interview with john friedman just ahead. including the political unrest exploding across north africa and the middle east. it's known as the arab spring. is there a bigger role that the united states should be playing in the process? rewards points on airfare,rship double on gas, double on groceries, and a single point on everthing else, it's a fast way to earn more every day.
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the arab spring. is this working out the way you and i and most americans would like it to work out in. >> wolf, my view from day one, i was in the square when it happened in egypt. is that this is going to be a long, long haul. these countries were led by a generation of tyrants basically who prevented any civil society institutions, any liberal politics from basically ee merging under them. when they cracked at the top, the elevator went straight down. that was the only institution there. naturally, you're going to see this initial islamic surge. and this kind of chaos. there are no institutions. i can be optimistic about it as long as i have a long timeline. the big question we have to ask about the other countries, they need a midwife, somebody be to help them through this process. in iraq, we were that midwife. at a huge cost to our country. at least we got them through various elections and into a constitution. who is going do that in egypt,
libya, in yemen, in syria if it goes down that road? that's a big question i still have. without that kind of midwife, it's going to take that much longer. >> there's enormous concern here and in israel about iran right now maybe being n on the verge of developing a nuclear device. that could change the strategic equation big time. >> that part of the world is just -- i've never been more depressed about it than i am now. >> you've covered it for a long time. >> my adult life. >> i remember your book, from beirut to jerusalem. >> other than the broad -- this upsurge which is hugely important. people taking responsibility for their own lives. my bottom line in the middle east, wolf, are stability has left the building. approximate you're looking for stability, it's left the building. the question is what kind of instability will we have? is it going to have a positive slope, head toward a south africa transition, indonesia
transition or god forbid, pakistan situation. i don't know. tom friedman of the new york times. thousands of people fleeing deadly flooding, hotshots are coming up next. pictures worth a thousand words. it feels like help is never far away. it feels like you're protected against life's little mishaps.
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here's a look at this hour's hotshots. in india, villagers wade through floodwaters that killed more than two dozen people and displaced more than 100,000 in the past week. in paris, love pad locks are attached to a fence. lovers either hold on to the key or throw it into the river below as a sign of undying love. >> in nevada, lightning flashes over the las vegas strip. in germany, check this out. a zookeeper holds twin baby pandas. hotshots, pictures from around the world. this programming note, this coming week, i'll be reporting live all week from new york city, the site of the united nations general assembly. we have interviews set with world leaders. the situation room in new york this entire coming week. that's it for me today. i'm wolf blitzer. join us weekdays from 5:00 to